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Mike Jones on Ted Haggard and Hypocrisy
Posted on Jul 7, 2007
The former escort who blew the whistle on Ted Haggard’s homosexuality explains why he felt morally compelled to come forward, what the fallout has been and what he feels is the real tragedy of the situation.
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James Harris: This is Truthdig. James Harris here with Josh Scheer. And on the phone we have the former escort and fitness consultant, Mike Jones. He’s the author of the new book “I Had to Say Something”—the book outlining and detailing his relationship with Ted Haggard. Since his new book was published, Ted Haggard, the former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, a 30,000-member organization, stepped down. And this book has caused an incredible stir. Mike, usually I would start off a discussion of your book by saying clearly you were in this for the money. But you lost your escort capacity. You were fired from your fitness consultancy. Why did you do it?
Mike Jones: Yes, when I exposed Ted Haggard I exposed myself. There’s no doubt about it. I also had death threats, and I risked being arrested, also. But you know, this man was such a hypocrite. This was a man who talked to Bush once a week. This was a man who actively campaigned against gay marriage. And he could not even abide by his own marriage vows. This is so strong for me, and it hurt me so deeply, that I simply reached the point where I had to say something.
Josh Scheer: What about in recent news where he said he has been cured of being a homosexual, he’s reformed. Do you believe that, since you spent three years with him?
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Jones: Well, first of all, the word cured is disgusting. It’s not a disease or a sickness. Listen, this man I had seen for approximately three years ... this man is in denial. It’s part of the problem with the evangelical church; it’s part of the problem with the Catholic Church. They put such guilt and shame on being a gay man that you end up with someone like Ted Haggard who has to sneak around. And that’s the sad situation about all of this.
Scheer: I read in the book, and in some descriptions, that you call Ted Haggard a gentle man and a nice man. How can he, on one side, be on TV saying all those awful things about other groups, and then change and be so tender with you? How do you think that happened?
Jones: Well, first of all, Ted Haggard, I think, is a gay man, personally. He grew up in the whole evangelical movement, and that’s what the problem is so many times with these people that give in to these positions, is they really have their own issues. But they don’t know how to deal with it. So, they get into these religious groups where people look to them for guidance and they get money and they get power, and they just can’t be themselves, so they almost live this façade. That’s what the tragedy of it all is; they’re living a lie. And so many people follow them. And, it’s a tragedy. Nobody won in the situation; I didn’t win; Ted Haggard didn’t win. But it’s a shame that he can’t be honest with himself.
Scheer: In your relationship did you ever know about his views? Watching the TV in the gym, did you ever know his views and did you ever confront him while you guys were together?
Jones: You have to remember that I ... saw him for two and a half years before I found out who he was. So he didn’t talk about what he did for work or any of his personal beliefs. I did know he was married and had five kids. I did know that much. So, it was strictly a business situation for me. It was, when he saw me, it was not only for sex, but it was for companionship. It was obviously to be affectionate with a man, that’s what he was looking for. It’s just unfortunate that he was living a double life.
Scheer: What are your feelings about being an escort? I think it’s a very interesting topic, that when I was reading the interviews—. I know you talk about it in the book, and in many of the interviews you’ve done they’ve talked about it. Do you find there was anything morally wrong with being an escort, or if you could go back to doing that would you?
Jones: I don’t care about going back to doing it. But when the news broke I was called a prostitute. And I really hate that word. Simply because there was so much more that I did than having sex occasionally. Not every man I was with, we had sex. Yet, you have to remember that 80 percent of my clientele were married men, and 15 percent were clergy. You know when I was, as an escort, I would have men that were literally dying and I was holding them in my eyes, they were crying, these are men felt like they were in situations they can’t get out of. And, I was there to help them emotionally. It wasn’t always about sex. So, I think I was like a counselor, a psychiatrist; I was much more than just a sex partner. So, deep down, I really, the moral part of it, you can decide what you want, on me, if you want to say I’m immoral, that’s fine. I just want to say this, I felt like I had to make a moral decision about Ted Haggard. He was hurting millions of gay people, him and the rest like James Dobson and Pat Robertson, all of them ... they hurt people. They divide this country; they don’t bring people together. And that’s what the shame is.
Harris: When you reflect on this, though, he is a married man, and you were complicit in the relationship as well. Eighty-five or 90 percent of your clientele were married; you must take some of the onus here, you think?
Jones: Now, listen, they called me first. I never contacted them. I was providing this service and they obviously wanted to hire me for that service. You have to remember, relationships are kind of a loose term because I never got emotionally attached to any of these men. Did I care for them? Did I feel sorry for them? Yes. I never got emotionally attached to them, so there is that wall that I put up and I kept that separate. This was a business for me, and that’s what it was.
Scheer: With the writing of the book, now, you’ve been on a book tour ... do you find that people out there, are they supportive? I heard earlier in the interview you talked about you getting death threats. But have people been supportive, or have people been kind of negative?
Jones: Well, I’ve gotten it from all sides. I’ve gotten it from religious people; I’ve gotten it from gay people. You know, I haven’t been the shining star for a lot of people. But I have had a lot of support. At a lot of my book signing tours I’m getting 100 to 200 people at these book signings. And that’s pretty large in book-signing terms. And so there is a lot of support for it. I have people who are hugging me and crying, saying “thank you.” So, yeah, I’ve got a lot of support out there, and a lot of the people still give me credit for helping the Democrats win the election last year. Whenever that was, last year, yeah. So, it’s amazing. My life has changed so much in the last nine months, it’s just… it’s been crazy.
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